I went to Lesley Kinzel’s reading of her book Two Whole Cakes at Bluestockings this evening. Events like this— radical gatherings of fatties, feminists, and the like— feel like cuddling after good sex. I lie naked and vulnerable, aware of how susceptible I am; and yet I feel protected, safe, and warm. I feel real.
I struggle for words to describe how I felt seeing so many fat people just hanging out. And not just any fat people: fat people who have cultivated a critical resistance to anti-fat bullshit; fat people who are smart and thoughtful and loving and fucking radical badasses. At the end of the reading and questions & answers, someone from Feminist Press announced that there were red velvet cupcakes for anyone who was interested. Lesley quickly added that we should feel free to grab TWO WHOLE CUPCAKES! And then, as if it were a scene plucked from the imagination of anti-fat trolls everywhere, there was a room full of fatties eating cake. I wish I could have seen the people walking by and looking into the windows. I wish I could have met their gaze as they try to figure out if this is the newest Weight Watchers meeting. I wish I could have given them my biggest fucking smile as I licked the cream cheese frosting with such joy and satisfaction as to make Marie Antoinette think twice.
After Lesley made her way to the back of the room, I caught her gaze and we hugged. No stiff introductions necessary. We acted like friends who’ve met before at a party through mutual friends, even though our contact has been limited to cyber space. I’m always flattered when people recognize and remember me from the nebulous internet. No matter how many tweets, emails, and comments, I am scared that I won’t be memorable. I worry that something that means so much to me is easily overlooked by someone who is obviously occupied with bigger and better things.
Lesley signed my copy of her book, and we chatted with other fatties about the usual shit fatties talk about— how we all hate Lane Bryant. They sell expensive, shapeless polyester frocks, but where else can we find bras or underwear? It’s a conversation I’ve had before and I’m sure I’ll have it again. And yet it’s still so satisfying to hear complete strangers talk about stocking up at yearly lingerie sale. The things that normally go unstated or never even addressed are prime topics for conversation. What is often laced with shame is laughed at both because it’s funny and because our laughter obliterates that shame.
As is our tradition, I got pudding with my friend Chanel after. (Yes, I had pudding after I ate two whole cupcakes. #obeselifestyle) We talked about fat and abortion and intersectionality. I rarely remember the details of the conversations I have with her, but I always remember feeling both energized and calmed, like a cup of coffee. Someone gets me; we challenge each other, but with care and compassion. We tell stories about the fucked up shit that happens in our lives and we get the outraged response we’ve swallowed for the sake of getting through our days. As she got into a cab, I yelled “Abortion! Fat!” Two words that deserve the light of day. Words that I say out loud, my voice giving them strength and dignity.
On the walk back to the subway, raindrops fell from the sky, spritely hitting my exposed face. I watched the drops fall to the ground, illuminated by car lights, and I felt calm. It’s not that I became complicit with the kyriarchy that quietly seeps into nearly every aspect of our culture, but rather it didn’t define me. For a few moments the world and all of its ill were quiet; for a few blocks I was able to just be.